Invested with Rats

“Dad, there’s the rat park.”

“The what?”

“The rat park, it’s invested with rats.”

“What?”

“Well, everyone leaves their food there, and everyone at school says it’s invested with rats.”

I try to encourage my children to be sceptical of any information that begins with, “Everyone at school says…”

David is ten and so a prime target for receiving and believing such misinformation. He wants to come across as an expert, but hasn’t yet reached the age of real cognitive development. Like all children his age, he lacks the power of reason to separate the facts from the fiction.

When I was in primary school (elementary school) my friends and I used to ask each other, “Are you smart?”

Naturally we’d all fall for the trap and say “Yes.”

The questioner would then smirk and say, “’Smart’ means you’re pregnant in French.”

“Oh, well I guess I’m not smart then.”

Where did that information come from? Children in south Texas don’t study French and the chance of their knowing a Frenchman is remote indeed.

Who invented this myth and why did we believe it? By what authority were these lies propounded?

“David, you mean the park is infested with rats.”

“Yeah, that’s why they call it the rat park.”

“So, you don’t want to go there?”

“No.”

“Well, I guess if it’s invested with rats then I don’t really want to go either.”

After all, who’d want to go to a park that’s invested with rats?

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